The month of May is finally here and arriving with it is the wonderful spring weather we have been waiting for! May offers the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors, for several different reasons: 1. It’s beautiful outside. 2. It’s a phenological explosion! 3. Many of us have a severe nature deficiency after hiding inside during the cold of winter. 4. It’s beautiful outside. Did I already say that?
This month, many of the Happy Dancing Turtle staff have agreed to participate in the 30×30 Workplace Challenge! The 30×30 Challenge was started by the David Suzuki Foundation as a way to encourage people to spend more time outside. The goal is to spend 30 minutes outdoors for 30 days in a row (the month of May). Why? Because it’s good for you! The EPA estimates that Americans spend approximately 93% of their lives indoors (87% inside a building, 6% inside a car) and only 7% outdoors! Recently, there has been a lot of research indicating that time outside has a wide variety of benefits to your physical, mental, and emotional health. These benefits are particularly important for healthy growth and development in children. So, join us this month as we try to spend at least 30 minutes a day outside! You can visit the website to pledge to the challenge and for fun outdoor activity ideas! Share the great outdoors by encouraging your friends and family to do the same!
In my opinion, May is the most exciting month of the year. After months of near silence in our woods and fields, suddenly they are bursting with the sounds of life. As each day gets a little longer and a little warmer, something new emerges on our landscape, offering a plethora of opportunities for discovery!
May is a time of change in the Northwoods. Our drab, brown landscape begins to reclaim its livelihood as spring colors return to the scenery. The woods begin greening from the bottom up. Already we see grass, moss, and ground pines covering the forest floor. If you’re lucky, you might find a morel mushroom while scouring the ground! Soon, we will see the first flowers – the spring ephemerals! These plants need to flower quickly, while the sun can still reach the forest soils, which will soon be shady. Next the shrubs and other plants of the understory will leaf out, followed finally by the leaves in the canopy. As more and more delectable vegetation appears, more and more hungry insects will emerge! This month we’ll say hello to many more species of butterflies, dragonflies, moths, flies, bees, and more.
These insects are what will bring our migratory birds back to fill the tree tops with music. Most song birds, even ones who primarily eat seeds/fruits the rest of the year, need the high-protein food source insects provide during the breeding and nesting season. May is Warbler Mania, which has already begun! Yellow-rumped warblers are typically the first to return and the most abundant. Other song birds to look out for include thrushes, orioles, vireos, flycatchers, tanagers, and many other species can be found collecting Minnesota’s abundance of insects! Many types of insects emerge from water, so ponds and lakes are always a good place to look for activity. Watch the turtles sun themselves on logs and see how many tadpoles you can find! The wood frogs eggs just hatched and thousands of tiny tadpoles can be found in many of our vernal ponds.
And let’s not forget, May is baby season in the Northwoods! Some early mammals have already had young this season, like fox, squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, and otters, and they may already be out and about. May is the birthing month for most other mammals, so keep an eye out for baby chipmunks, beavers, porcupines, wolves, raccoons and even fawns at the very end of the month. Most birds are in some phase of the breeding season – right now, we are seeing the first goslings, robins are sitting on eggs, and many more are gathering nesting materials. Get outside and see who is nesting in your yard!
So sign up for the challenge and get ready to spend the month of May outside! Now is the perfect time to get started – before the big mosquito hatch. Whatever you choose to do outside – whether it’s a strenuous hike or a nap in your hammock – take a moment to appreciate the beautiful nature around you and enjoy it!